Monday, April 18, 2016

Bulletin Boards and 75% off Valentine's day candy

If you look closely, my nails match.
                It has been a crazy month for me!  Ever since I started this endeavor a month ago, I have done nothing but write.  I'm not complaining, I've just been busy.  In addition to being faithful to my blog, I have written a letter of recommendation, an article for an artistic publication, an article for my school news letter, and a grant.  The grant was the big one.  Since my brain is a little fried, I decided to do a fun post full of color.  I want to show a few of the different bulletin boards I have completed during my nine and a half years of teaching art.  Feel free to borrow steal any of the ideas.  I hope they give you inspiration!  I know all of us could use a little inspiration right now. 

                To start this off on the right tone, I must make a crazy confession.  Bulletin boards are my jam!!!  As you can see, I've already posted about one I made here.  Right now, the educational environment is pushing to let students have more control.  We let students pick what they create (yup), we let students come up with their own rubrics (yup, do that too), and we have students assess their own progress (no matter how much they whine).  I let them put their own grades in the grade book until someone complained.  (Just kidding, but hmmmmm.....)  So I hold bulletin boards dear to my heart.  Whenever some well meaning teacher asks me, "Why don't you let the kids do this?"  I  smile that teachery fake smile that we all have and make up some polite answer.  Really, what I want to do is turn my head and hiss at them, a big angry cat hiss, a you-stepped-on-my-tail hiss.  I get control over one thing!  Mind your own business!  Geesh.

                Here is a board I created when I first started teaching.  It's super simple.  In fact, I kind of forgot about it until I was going through some old pictures last night.  It's just student art work with a matching border.  I know I'm not alone in studying Jim Dine in January/February.  I've seen the pictures from the internet.  We all do it!  Jim Dine hearts are always fun for Valentine's day.  Not as much fun as 75% off discount Valentine's day candy the day after the holiday, but close!
Van Gogh is the guy to go to if you need an artist quote.  With all those letters he wrote to his brother, you can pretty much get what you need.  Whether they are authentic or not, well, that's another story! 

                This was another Valentine's board I did.  My bulletin boards are a lot cooler with a few more years of teaching under my belt.  My inspiration for this board can be found here.  I decided to do a Van Gogh themed box of chocolates because I found a ton of those postcard books featuring Vincent in my classroom.  The box and all of the chocolates were 3D.  It was a huge pain.  Literally, I put it together with a glue gun.  I ended up having a student work on it after I finished about three of them.  That will teach them to rush through their projects. 

The secondary colors got the cool accessories. 

                I think everyone has seen the little complementary color poster that's been floating around on Pinterest.  I loved it, and I thought it would make a great bulletin board.  This is my interpretation of that poster.  When I was taking it down, a bunch of 7th grade girls scavenged the little Pac-Man color guys out of the trash.  As they were excitedly chatting about how cute they were and how they were going to hang them up in their bedroom, I was fuming.  WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT!!!  I still regret not pulling my teacher card and forcing them to give them back.  They would look cuter in the art room.

In reality, each kid wrote a message about what a dork Mrs. Dupree is. 

                This is a board I created for Music in our schools month, YAM, and any other "let's celebrate the arts" celebration.  I got the idea for the bubble letters in the FB group for Art teachers.  Students wrote in the letters little messages about what they loved most about music or art.  I wasn't totally in love with the finished product.  It came out dull, very white.  If I had to do it over, I would have splattered some paint drips on top of the sheet music.  The one thing I remember about this board is only reason I included Music in it was because I wanted to line the background with sheet music.  Sorry music class. 

Not my idea, yet still my FAVORITE!!!

                Here is a bulletin board I pretty much copied directly off the internet.  The original was found here.  Now, as you all know from my last blog post, I love art history.  When I saw this board, I absolutely had to create it.  I changed two of the five art history snowmen to my favorites--Klimt and Van Gogh.  I also added paintings to my board to make it easier to identify the artists.  I ended up making this board interactive and having students match the number of the snowman to the name of the artist.  They put their answers in an envelope next to the board.  Right before Winter break, I drew a winner and gave them a box of color pencils.  Also, side note, I learned my lesson from the complementary board and did not throw these guys out.  They hang in my classroom to this day. 
                This next board is something I created all on my own.  In fairness, I have to give credit to Katie Morris, the person who created the snowman board.  After it was time to change my snowmen out, I wanted to come up with another art history board.  I settled on this theme: artist who painted the person they loved.  I must have a thing for Valentine's day.  This is my third bulletin board with that holiday theme.
Ugly, stupid, colorful time vampire. 
                Now, I've been showing you a lot of boards that were inspired by stuff I found on the internet.  Most of the time, these have turned out pretty good.  Well, now I'm going to show you one of my failures.  I saw this board here, and I thought it was awesome.  Theirs was, but mine turned out like crap.  I didn't put the paint chips down in the correct order.  Or it looks better in pictures than it does in real life.  Or something.  The result was a sloppy looking rainbow board.  If I was going to do this over, I would plan out the placement of my paint chips with more care.  Or I just wouldn't do it again.  This took a stupid amount of time (hours!) for a crappy result. 
That middle guy got a 100 on his test.  Good for you, buddy!
                Although I didn't find this inspiration on the internet, I didn't come up with this idea on my own.  This premise came from a poster that hangs in the Spanish teacher's classroom in my school.  Of course it doesn't say art, it says Spanish, but I loved it and thought it would be perfect for art advocacy.  It came out great!  Also, I looked for an image of this poster, but couldn't find one on Pinterest or Google images.  But I also didn't look very hard. 

                If you've read to the end of this post, congratulations!  You've made it to my hidden message.  Yes, I wanted to show you bulletin boards, but this post had a deeper significance.  This week, a fellow blogger, Marcia Beckett, posted this article on a FB art teacher's blogging group.  I was 100% totally in love with the post.  I recommend reading it for yourself, but if you're tired from reading my post, here's the gist of it: If you take ideas from someone, give credit!  As the article says, "Spread credit around like confetti."  Which is a statement I totally love, and will find ways to sneak it into everyday conversation.            

                Now I'm sure there are people out there who will complain about this post or say I'm a crappy, Pinterest loving, BAD teacher.  You know what I say to that?  Whatever!  We've all needed some inspiration from time to time.  I've created dozens of bulletin boards in my career, and several of them have been ideas taken directly out of my head.  But that doesn't make me special, and if I searched "my" ideas on the internet, I'm sure a lot of them would pop up.  I picked these examples because I wanted to make a point.  We should all steal like an artist (awesome book!) and throw credit around like confetti (awesome idea!).

                Nothing you do will ever be original.  EVER.  And that's ok.  No one art teacher can constantly be creative and full of new ideas.  And even if you are a fountain of inspiration, you're probably not the first person to come up with that thought.  We are here to help each other out and to share.  And let's be honest, if you really want to keep that magical bulletin board idea to yourself, why are you even posting on the Internet?  So take ideas and mix them up.  Add your own spin.  Maybe, like my snowman bulletin board idea that I stole, it will turn into an entirely new idea, like my "artists in love" bulletin board.  The bottom line is, while you are working someone's ideas, please remember to give credit.  It's the best thing you can give. 

                Well, except for cheap chocolates on February 15th.  That's probably the best thing you can give. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Art Class with a side of Art History

I'm not the type of person who likes a limited number of choices in my life.  Some people might call that high standards, I'm pretty sure my husband calls it difficult.  I'm the kind of person who when asked if they want soup or salad, I reply, "French fries?"  I feel that way about debates on art education.  When I hear discussions on teaching art, I always hear the same questions.  TAB or DBAE?  Choice or structure?  Product or Process?  These are very good questions.  Nobel even.  But I have another question.  Like the kid that desperately wants you to call on him, I'm frantically raising my hand, waving it back and forth, saying, "Art History?"
Art History French fries are made of sweet potato. 

                Before we go any further, I want to make sure it is PERFECTLY CLEAR I'm not trying to start a fight.  Run your classrooms however you want.  You do you, Internet.  You do you.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that in all of this discourse on how to teach art, a lot of the time we leave out a giant piece of the puzzle: Art History. 
Art History is a piece of the puzzle.  Or several pieces, as seen here.
                There are so many warm and fuzzy reasons (totally legit reasons) we teach art.  It teaches decision making.  It allows students to process the world around them.  Students become better communicators when they take art.  Yes, yes.  We get it.  These are all things as art educators we need to know, because our jobs might disappear if we aren't able to spout these reasons off at the drop of a hat.  I know all of that.  But I don't know why art history is not brought up more in the general conversation.  Art History is the one part of art you can teach and 100% (Um, let's be safe and say 87.5%) of your students will be engaged. 
I carry them everywhere with me!

                Those are some pretty shocking claims.  When you say art history, most people think of overly warm classrooms and poorly done slideshows.  That is an antiquated view of the subject.  In its finest form, art history is entertaining and extremely relevant to a student's everyday life.  Not to mention, art history goes along with social studies, which will gain you bonus points within your district.  So, like all good burgers include French fries, I say all good art classes are served with a side of art history.

                I know most of you are probably shaking your head, thinking I'm nuts.  But really, hear me out.  My first claim is that art history is entertaining.  Here's the secret: Teach art history like you are reading a school appropriate version of the National Inquirer.  Believe it or not, kids get involved.  They want to know if Frida gets with Diego in the end.  They want to know about Salvador Dali and his crazy partying days. 

My little Scream puppet read this book in one night.  Mind blown!
                My elementary colleagues and conservative readers are probably freaking out right now.  Calm down!  I didn't say you had to give hardcore details.  I trust my fellow Internet art teachers.  You can tell engaging, historical bits about artists that work for your school population.  In kindergarten, I probably wouldn't tell them about Frida Kahlo's bed hopping.  But I would tell them about her several pets, or the fact that she had a large doll collection. 
She had a doll collection, and now she IS a doll.  Sounds like a horror movie. 
                It all goes back to storytelling.  There was a wonderful podcast on storytelling (episode 16: The Alchemy of Art: Storytelling and Making Meaning) in the now-discontinued AOE live.  Although not art history specific, they explain the idea of telling a narrative in art so much better than I do.  If you want a book recommendation for teaching art history, I have one.  The Secret Lives of Great Artists, by Elizabeth Lunday is amazing!  Some of it is NSFRA (NOT SAFE FOR READING ALOUD), but it gives you a bunch of ideas to start from.  If you teach elementary, or if you enjoy annoying your high schoolers by reading out loud like I do, the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists is also a fun series. 
I make it history books.  I'm so hardcore.
                The second point I want to make is that art history is extremely relevant to a student's life.  Even more than all the other skills they gain in your classroom, art history is the one thing they will remember all their lives.  Why do I say that?  Because art history is ingrained into our collective existence.  Don't believe me?  Here are some quick examples I came up with...
                Here is a bottle of olive oil, found in my local grocery store.  This olive oil is a great brand, and not just because it has a Botticelli painting on it.  Although, you have to admit, you WANT to buy this brand because of Venus.  Look at her shiny hair.  She must be replacing all the saturated fats in her diet with olive oil. 
The painting has changed a bit for the food buying public. 
                Snapchat has made my point for me.  The week I picked to write about art history, Snapchat put up not one, but two, art history filters on the app.  How else are you going to compete with puking rainbows unless you have prior knowledge of paintings from the past?

                I knew I could call in pop culture to help make my point.  Sponge Bob is a fantastic source for all things art related.  I wouldn't put on an episode of the giggly kitchen scrubber and call it "teaching," but there are a few clips worthy of showing. 
I did not create this, but I wish I had. 
                Children's books!  There are several children's books out there that are either based on famous artists or famous paintings.  For me, I like it when they "sneak" art history into stories.  It's like when I sneak liquefied carrots into my kid's macaroni and cheese. 
I really think Olivia the pig improves Degas's painting. 

                As long as we are on the theme of children, I'm going to bring up the shining example on how sedentary our culture has become: video games.  I know a lot of times art will be included in the background of games.  This is super cool, and can lead to a nice little discussion with your gamers.  But... some games take it a step further.  Check out this video game called Back to Bed.  It combines the art of Escher, Dali, and Magritte! 
Screen shot from the interwebs. 
                I could go on and on, but I think you have my point.  From Modcloth selling super cool Van Gogh dresses, to novels based on famous paintings, art history is part of our shared culture.  We see it in Disney movies, and the Simpsons, and on Family Guy.  It's everywhere.  Why run from it?  I want to embrace it!

NOT my favorite painting, but I HAD to have it!
                I will end this blog post by sharing a goal of mine.  I hope one day a former student is laying on his couch, totally chilling.  You know, that student.  The one who didn't like art.  I hope he's relaxing, watching TV, and some famous painting appears on his TV show.  Let's say it's the Persistence of Memory.  I hope he glances up and thinks to himself, "Hey, Look!  It's that painting Mrs.-What's-her-name taught us about!  Salvador Dali!"  He will pause, totally proud of himself.  "It's Melting Clocks!"

                Well, I did say about an 87.5% engagement rate.  Until next Monday!

Monday, April 4, 2016

I was not the Art Star

                At the NYSATA conference two years ago, I was listening to an art teacher give a presentation on (you guessed it!) teaching art.  I was slightly dozy, due to the extremely warm conference room and not her presentation.  At that point in the morning, everyone was half listening while doodling, (NOT ZENTANGLING) and wondering what was for lunch.  Then the presenter said something that hit home.  A flood of memories rushed into my brain when I heard this interesting string of words come out of her mouth. 

                "Now, like all of you, I was the 'ART STAR' in high school."  She paused and smiled knowingly out at the audience.  "You know, we were the kids that were amazing at art and always won the awards, always got our work displayed, were the teacher's favorite.  Those are not the kids I'm talking about.."

                Her talk went on, but my mind didn't. 

                I was never the "art star."

                I'm not even really good at art. 
I made myself an "art star."  So there.

                Ahhh... Did I really just write that?  My name's Rebecca, and I'm really kind of dreadful at making art, but I teach it.  Is that even allowed?  Should I hand in the keys to my classroom, my teaching certificate and my sparkly, Cassie Stephen's inspired apron?  Should I be mortified that I can't draw?  Can't paint?  Can't throw a ceramic bowl?  But here's the thing.  I'm not embarrassed at all.  And this is why...

                First, like any good gossip, you'll need some back story.  I am an only child.  Scratch that.  Not only was I an only child, I was an only grandchild.  That means I was the only one born to fulfill two generations of my family's hopes and dreams.  Talk about pressure!  The upside of this, everything I did as a child was fantastic.  If I drew a picture, it was beautiful.  If I used up all the tape in the house, it was because I was being creative.  Or, true story, if I cut up my mother's $200 brand new coat she just ordered from QVC, well I was just exercising my artistic spirit.  Side note: I would never be as forgiving as my mother was.  Sorry kids, I had three of you.  If one of you cuts up a $200 coat, you've lost your college fund.  Plus you owe me about five bucks. 
Nice coat, but I'd be more upset if something happened to my shoes. 

                That's pretty much how I spent my childhood.  I created doll clothes, story books, troll houses, sketches, I had a pretty detailed paracosm, and once even designed a line of porcelain dolls (Now that's something to be embarrassed about!).  I didn't put much thought into the fact I was an artist, I was just doing what made me happy.  I don't remember a lot about my elementary art days, except the classroom was in the basement, (why always the basement?! Come on, elementary schools!  At least pretend to like the art teacher!) and smelled unique.  As an adult, I know that smell is tempera paint and that's pretty much how I smell all the time. 
My two favorite perfumes. 

                In middle school, it was a bit different, because I was a bit different.  People started picking identities.  I guess you can't pick jock when you're failing gym class, so I went with artiste.  That's how I felt... but... my art grade didn't reflect that.  Middle school art class was hard for me.  I had all these great ideas but couldn't execute them due to low skill level.  Like one assignment at Halloween.  We had to paint a spooky face.  Cool, right?  Well, I had just read this pulp book about monster little girls that could kill people with their minds, or something stupid like that.  It gave me nightmares in a way that Goosebumps books never could.  To a middle schooler, it was super awesome.  So I decided that's what I was going to recreate with paint.  It would be terrifying!  No one else's art would look like mine!  The book described the girls "So beautiful they were scary...blond hair, blue eyes, mature smile, gives you the creeps to look at them."  Well, with crappy minimum  talent and  florescent paint, how are you going to create a beautiful, spooky little girl?  I couldn't. 
What a trashy novel that I'm totally going to re-read this summer. 
                My art teacher pulled me aside and basically said I wasn't doing the assignment.  And to be fair, I'm sure it looked like I wasn't.  At 12, I didn't have the words to defend or explain myself.  Defeated, I went back to my seat, looked at what the "good" kids were doing, and painted all the traditional spooky face crap on top of my blond hair and blue eyes.  It looked like crap, and not just because I was viewing it through tear filled eyes. 
Not a self portrait.

                High school was more of the same.  I liked my art teacher, and she liked me, but I never felt special.  It's ok, I wasn't.  There were people much better than me, but heck, I could console myself with the fact that I wasn't as bad as the kids who were there to get graduation credit.  I never made the front hall display case, but by that time, it didn't matter.  I was a self identified artist.  My projects for school were done, but at home is where I thrived.  I filled sketchbooks.  I made paintings.  I made collages.  I was happy. 
Also not a self portrait. 

                Then I went to college.  You know how everyone says college is the best years of your life?  Yeah... nope.  As I moved up through higher education, I heard a lot more negative comments about my ability.  There was the thinly veiled compliments, "You have great ideas, you just need to get your skill set up."  Then there was the outright negative opinions, "Boy, you suck.*"  If college taught me one thing, it was not listen to ANYONE's opinion about my art.  Which is an awesome skill to learn, and one I would need to have even if I was fantastic at drawing.  I just got a lot more practice than the average art student. 
This was obliviously how I showed teenage angst.  Thousands and thousands of dots. 
This is pointillism, haters.  

                So now I'm the art teacher.  The path I took to becoming one is long and twisted, and it's really not the point of this post.  The point of the post is I think being a "crappy" artist made me an "awesome" art teacher.  I know the struggles of the students.  I know how frustrating it can be to have a vision in your head and not able to put it down on paper.  I know the great effort it can take to draw a face, much less the entire body.  I know the jealously of seeing your peer scribble something effortlessly down on the paper and have it be amazing.  You know how Timothy Bogatz wrote this post?  Yeah, that's me everyday buddy!  They're all better than me. 
OK, which one of you left this spot?!??!?!

                But that's ok.  I have so much to offer these students.  I have the historical knowledge.  I have suggestions and inspiration to share.  I can talk to a middle school student and help them map out what they are thinking.  Together, in class, we turn ideas into art.  It's not an artist who does that for someone, it's a teacher.  I wish I could go back in time and help my twelve year old self put into words what she was trying to create that day in art class.  I would dry her tears, tell her she's an artist, and give her some words of advice. 

"You think this is bad?  Just wait until you have to deal with student growth objectives."  


*Actual professor comment to me. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

I'm just a delivery truck and other thoughts

After the response of my last post, I was extremely encouraged to start blogging in a meaningful way.  That is an understatement.  I was dancing in my living room, a stupid grin plastered across my face, ignoring the hunger cries from my small children, wearing those famous art teacher pajamas, incredibly overjoyed that tons of people related to how I was feeling.

 And I was beyond flattered so many people were encouraging me to continue blogging. 

To me that is a scary, but very cool, prospect.  I really want to write.  I've had a few short stories published, people have paid me to write papers for them correct their work, and I enjoy writing grants.  In fact, I've been writing since I was a kid.  In the days before the 24 hour child-friendly cable networks, that's how we entertained ourselves. 
As a seven year old, I wrote romance novels.  Cartoon Network didn't exist yet. 
Why am I an art teacher?  I guess the short answer is art just won out over English in college.  In my grumpy days, usually right around art show time,  I'm noted for saying, "I should've taken the test to become an English teacher.  It would be less work."  And then I look around, to make sure none of them heard me.  The English department is eight people verses two in the art department.  They could totally take me.  Thugs. 

That led me to the next problem.  What the heck am I going to write about?  I'm an ok teacher, but there are a million better educators than me.  I could write about my awesome wardrobe, like Cassie Stephens, but people would get sick of seeing my socks (I have a great sock collection.)  I could write from a retired perspective, like Phyllis Brown, but I'm not retired (On the upside of this, it's only 43 years until I can write from that viewpoint.  I did the math!)   Internet advice says write your blog from you authentic voice, but that sounds dangerous to me.  My authentic voice is the voice that said to me in college, "It's fine if you stay out until 3!  Your final isn't until 10 AM!"  My authentic voice hasn't grown up much over the years, but it continues to counsel me to make great decisions.  "Watch just one more episode of Star Trek!  It's only Sunday night at 11 PM!"  and "Of course you won't throw up if you eat that last Cadbury Creme Egg!"  I don't know if I can always trust my authentic voice. 
I just want to join my brothers.  Please don't deny me my destiny. 

What is different about my experiences as an art teacher?  Then, like 15 packages of 64 count Crayola crayons on sale for 90% off at Michaels, it all came home.  I teach in a rural district.  A diesel truck driving, camo wearing, deer huntin', extremely rural district.  Teaching art here is an experience.  I'm not saying better, I'm not saying worse.  I've never taught anywhere but where I currently work, so I have nothing to compare it too.  So, if you work in a rural district and can relate, or if you've never seen a cow in your life, here are four things about teaching in a rural district that they don't tell you in college, or in an interview, or anywhere:

1.  My kids have zero sensory issues.

                I know from reading the Internet  a lot of students don't like to touch certain supplies.  Actually, I don't need a Wi-Fi connection to tell me that... I refuse to touch chalk because it feels like chalk.  My kids have way fewer sensory issues than I do.  During paper mache, I had a student reach right into the goop.  He pulls his hand out, and with a total straight face and cheerful voice says, and I quote you, "It feels just like afterbirth!"  That's not the best part.  The other kids just start nodding in agreement.  No jokes or ewwwwws!  Just a causal observation from a student that's probably attended more births than my OBGYN.  These kids are farmers, and have no fear of the unknown. 
I had the choice to show chalk or afterbirth.  I went with the grosser option. 

2. Poop is not a big deal.

                I bet I threw you off with that last statement.  In fact,  it was quite an odd statement for me to type.  When deciding what kind of teaching degree I wanted, I knew right away I really didn't want to teach kindergarten.  I didn't even know if they could go to the bathroom by themselves yet!  (I later found out they could.)  But if children's books have taught me one thing, they have taught me that everything poops.  We are a rural school with a farming program.  We have chickens and cows in our school, because these are the supplies that are needed to teach farming.  Sometimes these supplies poop.  Deal with it. 
At least my paintbrushes don't poop on my desk. 

3.  Pink camo is a thing not to be messed with.

                I think of the pattern of camouflage  like I think of the painting, Starry Night.  It sorta represents nature.  It was something I liked in middle school.  Also, a lot of people can identify it on sight, making it pretty common place.  Pink camo, on the other hand, is something totally weird to me.  But you do not mess with it in a rural school, or middle school girls will hunt you down.  Pink camo shows up in everything we do.  I've had ceramic bowls glazed to look like pink camo, pink camo inspired paper marbling, and pink camo decorating the border of a drawing.  At first, I fought it.  Hard.  Then it dawned on me, I'm the odd one out.  (Also, I'm the only person over 20 in the classroom, but who's counting that?)  It was time to shut my mouth about the pink camo.  It was simply a reaction of my students to the world around them, and isn't that the goal of art education?  To observe and process their surroundings?   Now, I think of pink camo like I think of Van Gogh's brush strokes.  It is simply a defining characteristic of my students' art. 
The assignment?  Draw yourself in fancy clothing. 

4. I am the first line of defense in an artless wasteland. 

                I always get the same thing said to me, year after year.  It's always the same scenario.  A kid is sitting in class, staring at me like a creeper, and then they say it: "Mrs. Dupree, you're not from around here.  You're like, from a city, aren't you?"  Well, jokes on you, kid.  I grew up in the next school district over.  HA!  But really, most of these kids have never been outside of our area.  A person with a little bit of artistic experience and  knowledge does stick out.  The closest museum of any kind, not even art specific, is 35 miles away.  Art is not really something that is part of their lives.  This doesn't mean they don't appreciate it, it just means it's not common in the area we live.  I see myself like an art delivery truck.  A diesel art delivery truck, with stacks.

 And you guys thought I was just a teacher. 

And, that's it folks.... my words of wisdom about art teaching in a rural school.  I hope you enjoyed  this post as much as the last one.  If you did, and want to follow my art adventures,  I've decided I'm going to update my blog every Monday night.  See you next Monday when I write about  how bad I am at art.  (For reals.) 


Monday, March 21, 2016

#NAEA2016: the home edition

Like many of you, I was stuck at home over the weekend.  Alone, bored, with nothing to stimulate my professional development.  And to make it worse, I swear, off in the distance, I could hear the joyful chatter of the 5,000 art teachers from around the country who got to hang out together for #NAEA2016.  At first I was bummed, but then it dawned on me!  I didn't need to be sad or continue to stare longingly at the photos on Instagram.  I could play NAEA2016, the Home Edition!!!

I've been to my state conference a few times, so I have an idea of what it is like to go and chill with lots of cool art teacher people.  But from the pictures I saw on the internet, this was a whole different ball game.  There were a few special things I needed for my home version of national conference.  So I gathered all the supplies and had a blast going to conference.... all by myself.  

The pajama picture:

Of course, the first thing I needed to do was take a group shot in my art teacher pajamas.  As I was taking this picture, I tried to forget that I originally paid $32.00 for these stupid pajamas, but recently they were on sale at Target for about $8.00.  I had to buy the $8.00 pair too, because I felt like saving money.  I was supposed to save that cheap pair for "someday," but when I went to take this picture the $32.00 pair was dirty.  So now I have two pairs of art teacher pajamas in rotation. 
Don't you hate it when they choose the group photo that you're making a horrible face in?

The Art Teacher Swag:

Everyone on the Internet is talking about the awesome giveaways they get from the vendors.  I knew that if I was going to do my home conference right, I too was going to need a bag of free art materials.  I asked my daughter to give me some of her art supplies, because she sure doesn't use them.  Not since she found out that mommy's Prismacolor markers work so much better than her Crayolas.  Anyway, Alice gave me a plastic Wal-Mart bag with a half dead sharpie and a few broken crayons.  Also, when I went grocery shopping on Sunday, the grocery store was giving out free samples of their brand of dish soap.  SCORE!  I put that in the bag too. 

That sharpie has something odd glued to the top of it.

The "I know you from the Internet" Selfie:

When you go to conference you get to take tons of selfies (usies?) with cool people you met on the internet.  I wanted in on this, but since everyone was in Chicago and I was not, I had to get creative.  I drew myself an internet art teacher.  Before I took the selfie, I noticed that everyone in the pictures had all these ribbons attached to their name tags.  I just threw some post it notes on myself and called it a day. 

She runs a successful blog/ art studio/ and works 70 hours a week. I don't..... Aren't we cute?

The comic con:

Apparently, there was a Comic Con in the same hotel as the art teacher conference.  I had to dig these old action figures of my brother's out of the attic to get this picture.  (Edit: I don't have a brother, these are mine.  Second edit: I didn't have to dig these out of anywhere.  They were right on my bedside table.) 

OMG Star Wars!!!

Professional development:

From what I read on the Art Teachers Facebook page and what I saw on Instagram, every session was awesome and amazing.  Kidding aside, I totally believe that.  Also, news flash, being an art teacher is the best job in the world. if I didn't know that.  Seeing all these people being excited about teaching and exchanging ideas made me want some professional development too.  So while I was washing dishes, where I may or may not have used some of that free soap, I listened to AOE's Art Ed radio podcast.  It was about color theory, and they talked about those shrimp that can see like a million more colors than humans can.  I never thought I would be jealous of a shrimp.  The pod cast was inspiring and the dishes got done.  Win win!

I only buy dining ware in cool or warm colors. 

The Van Gogh Exhibit:

There was a big Van Gogh Exhibit going on while everyone was in Chicago.  I love that artist, so I wouldn't want to miss that.  Once again, I called upon my daughter for help.  We created our own Van Gogh Exhibit, using Van Gogh stickers, cardboard and paint.  We had a great time making this and our, I mean her, dolls had a great time viewing it.  It got me thinking about what a cool assessment project this could be for my sixth graders, and then I thought about a Van Gogh project I want to do, and then I thought about how I could tie Van Gogh in with color theory.  BAM!  My brain was making connections. Isn't that exactly what art conferences are for? 
That's my Princess of Power doll, thankyouverymuch.

I had a wonderful time this weekend at #NAEA2016, the Home Edition.  I want to thank everyone who shared their pictures on social media.  It was delightful to watch you guys! It is so important to be able to connect with people that share your profession.  Because state conference has always been such a magnificent experience for me, I can't even imagine how cool National conference must be.  Ok, I can imagine, and that's why I want to go so badly!!!


  Hopefully, I will be at #NAEA2017, the real life edition!